Short Take: Sophistry of the Young and the Restless

In one of those classic “fortuitous” moments that happen at the South by Southwest Festival, which used to be a great opportunity to try ‘shrooms and has since morphed into a great opportunity to be totally progressive or suffer a different type of stoned, Bill Nye the Science Guy asked the last question of the adored Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.

Slate, which is chronicling AOC’s rise to power for the newer testament, provides the transcript.

“I’m a white guy,” he started. “I think the problem on both sides is fear. People of my ancestry are afraid to pay for everything as immigrants come into this country. People who work at the diner in Alabama are afraid to try to ask for what is reasonable. So, do you have a plan to work with people in Congress that are afraid? I think that’s what’s going on with many of the conservatives, especially when it comes to climate change. People are just afraid of what will happen if we try to make these big changes.”

Somewhere in the midst of the question, the word “yup” can be heard in a voice that sounds remarkably like AOC’s.

“One of the keys to dismantling fear is dismantling a zero-sum mentality,” Ocasio-Cortez answered. “It means the rejection outright of the logic that says someone else’s gain necessitates my loss and that my gain must necessitate someone else’s loss … We can give without a take.” She went on to address the complaints that her plan to address climate change costs too much: “We’re viewing progress as a cost instead of as an investment … When we choose to invest in our system, we are choosing to create wealth.”

Whereupon, the fulsome pair posted a selfie, because what else could they do?

It’s one thing to be critical of Nye, whose “science guy” credentials might evoke some strict scrutiny had he not been a vocal proponent of climate change, but why should anyone pay attention to a freshman House representative whose prior experience in government was waiting tables (not that there’s anything wrong with that)?

That AOC (and there can be no real celebrity without a name that everyone recognizes without having to actually include the name) has become the mouthpiece for the Democrat’s version of the tea party is clear. She’s not merely a celebrity, now, but beyond the reach of such dinosaurs as Pelosi and Feinstein.

Worse yet, while candidates for the Democratic nomination for the presidency are doing their utmost to distinguish themselves from the herd, they can’t get the spotlight off AOC. Like it or not, she’s pulled off a coup. Even when she says something completely, if adorably, wrong, a tidal wave of excuses arises to defend her. This might sound familiar to people who pay attention to the utterances of usurpers in Washington these days.

But her response to Nye was one that she’s made before, that the rules of logic should be rejected in favor of aspirational rhetoric.

The freshman lawmaker ended by saying that taking bold moves can become contagious. “Courage begets courage,” she said. “The first person who stands up has to encounter the most amount of fear and discomfort, but once that one person stands up, it becomes immensely easier for the second person and the third.”

Americans love bold moves, as it makes them feel as if they are doing something important. And AOC may not actually be the first person to stand up and deny that facts and logic are constraints on her dreams, but she certainly owns it at the moment. Even though she’s not eligible to run for president due to her youth, can the Democrats field a candidate who doesn’t kneel before AOC and pray for a selfie?

Is the real message here that the old liberal Democrats have lost the battle for the party faithful and they can either get on board with the young and the restless or get out of the way? So it might seem, comrade.

40 thoughts on “Short Take: Sophistry of the Young and the Restless

  1. Matthew Scott Wideman

    Sophistry is the best way to put it. Educated fools convincing everyone of their “points” and questioning nothing.

  2. Owl

    Don’t bet against the dinosaurs yet. The experience and cunning that comes with age often beats the energy and enthusiasm of youth.

  3. albeed

    “But her response to Nye was one that she’s made before, that the rules of logic should be rejected in favor of aspirational rhetoric.”

    OK, now I am convinced. I used to be a conservative, old white male but I am beginning to see the light of the enlightened. I will come full circle and believe in the progressive energy utopia when AOC explains to me the Laws of Thermodynamics AND makes a perpetual motion machine.

    Oh wait, we can’t make a perpetual motion machine unless Congress passes some lawyerly laws OR subsidizes it indefinitely.

    Well then, imagine the wealth we would create and the money that would be saved if Congress also repealed the Law of Gravity at the same time. Congress, get off your butts and do it!

    1. Fubar

      I will come full circle and believe in the progressive energy utopia when AOC explains to me the Laws of Thermodynamics AND makes a perpetual motion machine.

    2. Jardinero1

      While we are at it, Congress should legislate the forty hour day. Imagine that; more time for work and leisure. A win, win for everyone.

          1. LocoYokel

            That’s the scariest part, someone who’s just riding the wave for advantage knows when to cut their losses and quit. A true believer will ride it all the way down the toilet and take you with them. Give me the cynical opportunist every time, at least then you have a chance of coming out at least partly intact.

  4. Richard Kopf


    Speaking of sophistry, unlike AOC’s claim that she does not believe we live in a zero-sum game world, I suspect she is fibbing.

    Down deep, I bet she subscribes to the economic wisdom of P.J. O’Rourke. That is, at any given time, “there is only so much money. The people who have money are hogging it. The way for the rest of us to get money is to turn the hogs into bacon.” P.J. O’Rourke, The Wall Street Journal, (December 27, 2012).

    All the best.


    1. DaveL

      Similarly, I think you will find that this talk about “investment” will quickly pivot to a discussion of “rights” if promised returns fail to materialize.

    2. Elpey P.

      O’Rourke is also the fellow who said, “Liberals hate wealth, they say, on grounds of economic injustice – as though prosperity were a pizza, and if I have too many slices, you’re left with nothing but a Domino’s box to feed your family. Even Castro and Kim Il Sung know this to be nonsense.” P.J. O’Rourke, Introduction to ‘Give War A Chance’.

      AOC is using logic not all that different from the “rising tide” rhetoric used by defenders of capitalism. She may be talking aspirational nonsense, but that’s what politicians do and what the general public responds to, regardless of which side this sort of “logic” is coming from. In her case the benefits being touted go beyond strictly bean counting, so knocking her down with pithy economic truthiness doesn’t really engage the debate very well, especially when it’s contradicted in other contexts.

      This isn’t so much a defense of her position. Good causes make the worst messes, after all, and society seems to be incapable of learning this lesson.

      1. LocoYokel

        Funny thing is, when you look at all the “liberals”/progressives who are filthy rich and not lining up to give it all to the poor you realise that they do not hate wealth. They just hate it when the wrong people (conservatives) have it. Last time I checked the stats (they might have changed in the last couple of elections, but I doubt it) there were more millionaire Democrats in Congress than Republicans. When I start seeing people like Oprah giving all their money to the poor people in their city and state I might start listening to the rhetoric.

        /rant off

  5. phv3773

    “Is the real message here that the old liberal Democrats have lost the battle for the party faithful and they can either get on board with the young and the restless or get out of the way?”

    The (depressing) news from Iowa is that Biden and Sanders are leading the polls there. The press is infatuated with AOC now, but the attention will turn to the presidential race and the opinions of people who don’t know anything about socialism except that they are against it.

  6. Dan

    “One of the keys to dismantling fear is dismantling a zero-sum mentality,”

    So why does she keep nattering on about “income inequality”?

  7. Guitardave

    Did they chat with Tulsi ? ( and make it a big story?)….oh… never mind…probably too much defense contractor $ behind SXSW to promote an anti-war Dem. My duh.

  8. ShootingHipster

    AOC talking about dismantling fear is good for a laugh. Doesn’t she belong to the We Only Have Twelve Years To Fix This Or The World Is Going To End party?

      1. ShootingHipster

        Since applying timelines to end of world prophecies belongs in the realm of religion, not science, this has some truthiness for me.

  9. CLS

    I suspect the ship has sailed on the old liberal Democrats. One of the big takeaways from 2016 was a desire from the Democrats for something other than “business as usual” in Washington. Bernie represented the anti-establishment desires of so many, and I think that’s why he’s garnered so much appeal despite never having accomplished a damn thing in life.

    Then the party decided everybody had to be #WithHer, and that put a bad taste in the mouths of those now insulted as “BernieBros” since they didn’t get in line. Now Bernie’s still got some clout, but he’s not “intersectional” enough for the people pushing for increasingly insanely leftist positions.

    AOC and her running buddies are the next generation of that anti-establishment left. She’s got no respect for those who came before her in Congress and isn’t afraid to show it, on social media or the House floor. Like our current President, she’s quite savvy spewing bullshit and has no problem bending the truth when it suits her narrative. And her talking points are batshit insane enough to rile up conservatives to the extent Democrats lose their shit with every “modern-day Presidential” twit.

    Look no further than the conflict over AOC’s gal pal Ilhan Omar, who can’t seem to go more than five minutes without spewing some anti-Semitic nonsense. If it weren’t for her proximity to AOC, the House would most likely have censured Omar by now. Instead, they’re passing vague resolutions condemning “all hate.” That’s how much power Ms. Ocasio-Cortez wields, whether we want to admit it or not.

    And the media can’t get enough of her, even when she goes full blown stupid. I remember when she opined to Anderson Cooper the woes of people concerned over being “factually correct instead of morally correct.” At the time of the interview, heads were exploding. People kept pointing out being morally correct WAS being factually correct. Now op ed writers are praising her desire for moral correctness as laudable.

    To end with a bit of a Ghostbusters analogy, Trump was the form of the Destroyer chosen by the reactionary left. I fear AOC and her ilk are the form of the Destroyer chosen by the right.

  10. Ross

    I keep wondering how many people AOC is willing to kill to achieve her Green New Deal goals. There are a bunch of folks who would tell her to get lost and then refuse to comply with whatever edicts might be necessary to achieve the GND unless there’s force involved. For me, she can have my Wold 6 burner gas range top when she pries it from my cold dead fingers.

    AOC is also ignoring the reality that there’s no way to realistically achieve the goals she’s proposed, even with complete compliance. High speed rail nationwide in 12 years? That’s funny, AOC.

    1. Pedantic Grammar Police

      Don’t be so negative. California (my home state) is building high speed rail from LA to SF for only 33 billion. OK 77 billion, but who cares, money grows on trees at the Fed, so we only need the Fed to bail out every municipality in the US with printed dollars and everything will be fine. They started in 2008 and will be finished in early… never, because the project has now failed. But I’m sure they learned from this failure to build a single train line between two cities; with that new knowledge our politicians are now fully capable to build a centrally managed utopia in which everything works exactly as planned.

      1. Casual Lurker

        “California (my home state) is building high speed rail from LA to SF…”

        Didn’t your Governor recently put the kibosh on that project? I also vaguely remember some news saying the Fed’ Govt. would attempt to recoup monies already handed out to California for new high-speed rail construction.

  11. Julia

    The Green New Deal by AOC is a simple resolutions not a bill. Nobody has to do anything to implement this “plan”, make bold moves or any moves, spend, invest, address climate change, adhere to the laws of physics blah-blah. I suspect she’s aware of it.

    For me it looks like a big fat fakery, self-promotion it its purest form. AOC might’ve introduced a resolution “I order climate change to stop and everybody gets a beer”, same thing.

  12. Casual Lurker

    I’ve used this before, but it’s worth repeating. Even those with little or no understanding of economics tend to get it:

    “The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”.
      —Margaret Thatcher, UK Prime Minister (1979 to 1990)

    Frankly, I have no use whatsoever for AOC, regardless of her beliefs or motivations.

    …or suffer a different type of stoned…”


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